Chris Paul loves the kids and has constantly gone out of his way to give back to the younger generation and have an impact on them the best way he can. Yesterday, Chris, along with his Chris Paul Family Foundation, State Farm and NBA Cares, held an event at the Educational Alliance Boys & Girls Club’s Edgies Clubhouse in New York City where they unveiled a state of the art mobile teen learning center. This was all part of the State Farm Assists Tracker, which provided $5 for every assist made league wide during the 2015-16 season to help renovate select Boys & Girls clubs across the country. We were invited to the event and had a chance to sit down with both Chris Paul & Minnesota Timberwolves rookie of the year, Karl Anthony Towns.


Powered by the State Farm Assists Tracker, “Exist To Assist” has executed successful assists that benefit community organizations in Los Angeles, Oakland and Portland, OR. Along with Chris Paul & Towns, 2016 NBA Draft prospects Kris Dunn and Jakob Poeltl were on hand to serve as a source of inspiration for the kids as they prepare for their own futures the same way Dunn & Poeltl are currently doing as they are in town for Thursday’s draft.

None of the kids at the Boys & Girls club knew that Paul or any of the other players were there and they got the surprise of a lifetime when they walked into the gym one at a time. About twenty of the kids would also soon find out that they were going to the NBA Draft.

After the intros, Chris explained to the kids what the State Farm Assist Tracker is all about and how it helps provide things like the state of the art learning center they were gifted with. Soon as he finished speaking, the stars took the court with the kids for some drills and you could see the faces on the young ones just light up as they showed off their own skills to the professionals.

Prior to all of that, we were lucky to have a few minutes to talk with Chris about the event as well as other basketball related things.

Joe Sports: So Chris, I know you do a lot to give back to kids and the community in general. Is that something you experienced when you were younger that led you to always want to help others as much as you can?

Chris Paul: Sure! When I was younger, my grandfather had the first black owned service station in North Carolina and he was all about giving back and helping others. Me, when I got older and first came into the league, I just always loved dealing with kids because they are so genuine, they give you raw emotion and to be in a position to give back, I’ve always wanted to have an impact on kids.

JS: This all seems like something that is a legit passion for you. Just hearing your voice while you speak about it gives me a sense that all of this means just as much to you as it does for the kids.

CP: It’s cool too. I think about some of the things that I try to do for kids now, I didn’t get those opportunities when I was a kid. I didn’t get to go to an NBA players basketball camp or anything. I don’t know, I just think things that happen to you when you’re a kid sometimes stay with you for life. I remember some of the talks I got about motivation when I was younger and kids won’t necessarily remember everything you say but if they remember one of two things you say it can be very positive.

JS: How’s the hand doing after the surgery?

CP: The hand is doing a little bit better man. Looking forward to getting back out there

JS: I know you’re a close friend with Lebron and with the Finals just ending, was that something you watched as just a neutral fan wanting to see good basketball or because of that friendship you found yourself wanting Cleveland to take the Warriors out?

CP: No question! That’s like my brother man. I was so happy to see him win because you know the brotherhood we have but also knowing how hard he works and what it means to him. I couldn’t be happier for him.

JS: What did you think of his performance, especially over the final three games with back to back 41 point games and then the triple double?

CP: It’s crazy! When you’re a friend you try to not be a fan but I was telling my brother that block that he had in game seven, you sorta knew it was coming, but it’s still like man! That’s why if I’m on a fastbreak and he is out there, I pull up for mid range jumpers.

JS: Was it tough to watch, knowing you and the Clippers could’ve been there yourself if not for injuries?

CP: That’s how it is every year. I hate watching it. I didn’t watch any of the western conference playoffs this year. It’s always tough to watch.

JS: Is that typical for you to not watch the western conference if you guys are eliminated?

CP: Yeah, its always tough to watch that but the Finals itself was so good and also knowing Lebron was playin against Steph and stuff like that I just had to watch.

JS: Speaking of Steph, you have any opinion on the controversy his wife started with her tweets?

CP: Nah (laughs)

We also had a few minutes with Karl Anthony Towns to speak about his rookie year experiences and how he wound up as part of the event yesterday.

JS: How did you get involved with this event today?

KAT: A good friend of mine, actually a great friend of mine, Chris Paul, asked me to be part of this today with his Chris Paul Family Foundation and do the community assist with State Farm. I was honored to even be asked to help

JS: What were some of the biggest things you had to learn or adjust to from the start of your rookie season compared to college?

KAT: Starting out, I learned the pace of the game is much different. The way you play has to be a change of speed at times with some calmness. Can’t always go all out like how you might in college. Towards the end of my season it was more about just learning how to win in the league. It’s so difficult, especially to do something like win 73 games. The game is always evolving, it’s a much more athletic league now and it’s just a blessing to be part of this era and the game in general.

JS: You mentioned 73 wins. I saw you at the Finals for game six in Cleveland looking like you were having a good time. How much of the series did you watch?

KAT: I thinks my tweets showed how excited I was. I was having a great time. I was more blown away that I was in a suite with Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Mike Miller and Bill Russell watching the game and throwing popcorn at each other. Not many times you will get to do something like that.

JS: Looking towards next year, there is a lot of excitement with the Timberwolves next year. An up & coming team with yourself, Wiggins, Zach LaVine & Rubio, how do you feel about you guys making your own playoff run in the western conference?

KAT: I think we have a very good chance. That is something we should do, not just think about doing. We have the talent, we have the coaching and it’s up to us to put it together and do what we need to do to accomplish our goals.

JS: You have a great coach in Tom Thibodeau. He is no joke.

KAT: No Joke!

JS: Given that it’s that time of year for the draft again, how was your draft night experience a year ago and how were you feeling that day?

KAT: It was a nerve wracking time. In your career, especially for top players growing up you get to pick what high school you went to. You get to pick what college to attend. In the NBA though you don’t get to pick. You’re just playing poker with a hand you don’t get to see yet. I was blessed to be the number one pick last year and get a royal flush and be part of such a great organization. Everything worked out good for me.

Salute to both Chris & Karl for speaking with us and a big round of applause goes out to everyone involved in such a cool event that was all about the kids.